HP calls in the cavalry for OpenStack cloud confederation

Hewlett-Packard(s hpq) is filling in more of the check boxes on its cloud to-do list, lining up an array of service providers and other partners to give its OpenStack-based Helion cloud scale and worldwide presence.

The goal is a global federated network of clouds so that customers in one country can order up instances anywhere in the world via HP’s partners (or HP itself) and get one bill, one service agreement and the proverbial one throat to choke. That phrase is meant to appeal to customers who don’t want to deal with vendors’ finger pointing when the you-know-what hits the fan. Bill Veghte, HP’s EVP for enterprise, will talk more about this and the competitive landscape next week at Structure.

bill veghte

HP insisted that unlike some other vendor clouds, this is a hardware-agnostic play. It will not expect its partners to use HP storage or servers, “although we think they will want to,” said Steve Dietch, VP of business development for HP. 

Deitch said HP will be a peer in this member-governed federation that he likened to the Visa banking network. As with the Visa banking/credit card affiliation, the only requirement is that members use the same network — in this case Helion OpenStack.

The news, which comes out of the HP Discover conference in Las Vegas, builds on last month’s news that HP would offer its own OpenStack distribution, complete with product indemnification for its customers and its customers’ customers. At that time, HP said it was installing Helion on a subset of its 80 data centers worldwide over the next year and a half.

The fact that it’s recruiting other data center partners shows that HP knows it needs more scale and geographical coverage to compete with massive public clouds from Amazon(s amzn) Web Services, Microsoft and Google(s goog).

The HP Helion Network is a work in progress. The rollout of Helion to partner data centers will start in November and the federated environment will be operational in 2015, Deitch said. He also acknowledged that many if not most of its partners would offer non-HP options as well. VMware(s vmw) is also using an array of service provider and other partners to host its vCloud Hybrid Services cloud.

Although enterprises are slow moving to the cloud, the question is whether time is on HP’s side. Azure, which Microsoft is pitching aggressively to its enterprise customers, and AWS, which has also made big inroads in the enterprise, are fully operational now. It’s still not clear to me that Google is targeting business accounts with the Google Cloud Platform, but never say never.